France braces for massive 'yellow vest' protests

Eiffel Tower to close as France fears more riots

The government this week scrapped planned fuel tax hikes planned for January - one of the protesters' main demands - and announced a string of other measures created to help low-income families.

Despite the government's climbdown over the fuel tax, the "yellow vests" continue to demand more concessions, including lower taxes, a higher minimum wage, lower energy costs, better retirement benefits and even Macron's resignation.

The French yellow vest protest movement is crossing borders, with demonstrations planned in neighboring Belgium and in the Netherlands.

While scattered scuffles broke out Saturday around central Paris, the action seemed less violent overall at midday than at the same time a week ago, when crowds defaced the Arc de Triomphe, one of the city's most revered monuments, and rampaged in the surrounding high-end neighborhood.

A Gendarmerie armoured vehicles (VBRG) drives past fire near the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris on December 8, 2018 during a protest of "yellow vests" (gilets jaunes) against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes.

But the protests were far smaller than last week's demonstrations, as police sought to preempt any chaos by arresting protesters and confiscating unsafe objects before demonstrations began.

A bin is burning as school children demonstrate in Paris, Friday Dec.7, 2018.

About 89,000 police were deployed across France on Saturday, some 8,000 of them in Paris.

Interior Minister Christopher Castaner said that he expects radical elements to be present in Paris and that "the past three weeks have given birth to a monster that has escaped its creators". More than 30 people were injured.

Groups in yellow vests also gathered near the iconic Bastille plaza and a few other spots around Paris.

"We can not take the risk when we know the threat", Culture Minister Franck Riester told RTL radio, adding that far-right and far-left agitators were planning to hijack rallies by "yellow vest" protesters in Paris.

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People wearing Yellow Vests clash with police forces.

After the meeting a spokesman from the movement, Christophe Chalencon, said Philippe had "listened to us and promised to take our demands to the president".

The measures include mobilizing 8,000 police officers in the French capital and closing such famous sites as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre museum.

Shop windows on the othr side of the road are completely shattered.

Much of Paris looked like a ghost town on Saturday, with museums, department stores closed on what should have been a festive pre-Christmas shopping day.

The U.S. Embassy requested that Americans in the French capital "keep a low profile and avoid crowds", the report said.

But the yellow vests, many of whom who have become increasingly radicalised, are holding out for more. He called on peaceful protesters not to get mixed up with "hooligans".

Police posted a video on Twitter of officers tackling a protester and confiscating his risky material, which appeared to be primarily a tennis racket.

Macron announced earlier this week that planned hikes in petrol and diesel taxes, which sparked the protest movement, would be cancelled. They said fellow protesters trying to reach Paris from Toulouse in southern France reported the same problems.

Others have made it personal and say Macron must resign, still fuming over his decision to cut taxes for the highest earners shortly after sweeping to the presidency previous year.

But his climbdown on fuel taxes - meant to help France transition to a greener economy - marks a major departure for a leader who had prided himself on not giving into street protests.

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